Monthly Archives: March 2012

Easy App


I’m gonna confess something to you guys: if ever I’m having people over for a meal or drinks or whatever, I will often scan my cupboards first to find out what I have to get rid of and then plan my menu around that. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not serving old deli meat and baking soda, but if I have asiago cheese that I don’t know what to do with, or half a can of cashews that need to be eaten, I’m using ’em.

Case in point: last weekend’s easy starter.

On the menu:
Crostini with blue cheese, honey, and toasted almonds
Serves 4

1 baguette, sliced into 1-inch thick rounds
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
3 Tbsp honey
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Place almonds in a skillet and heat over medium heat. Constantly shake the almonds over the heat until they are fragrant. Remove from heat.

Place baguette slices on a cookie sheet in one single layer. Sprinkle blue cheese on toast, drizzle honey, and top with almonds. Place cookie sheet under a pre-heated broiler for 3 minutes.

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Spring Risotto


It’s no secret to those devoted Food E. readers that I love risotto. It’s easy to prepare for company, it’s impressive to present, and it’s one single dish to make sure is ready by meal time instead of two or three separate dishes that you have to coordinate. Also, most people love it. This past weekend The BF and I had some friends over for dinner and I prepared this risotto with a small arugula salad with cucumbers to start. The original recipe calls for calamari and if you have a grill or a grill pan, I’d definitely suggest trying it. I went with calamari’s good friend, shrimp.

On the menu:
Spring pea and lemon risotto with shrimp
Serves 4 

6 cups chicken stock
5 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium leek, white and light green parts only, sliced thin
1 tsp of fresh lemon juice, plus zest of one lemon
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 pound fresh shrimp, de-veined and tails removed, patted dry and lightly sprinkled with garlic salt and flour

Heat chicken stock over medium-high heat until it simmers, lower heat and leave the stock on a low simmer.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and sautee leeks until softened but not brown, about 7-8 minutes.  Remove leeks from the pot and set aside on a plate. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and add rice. Stir rice for one minute until fully coated with oil.

Add white wine to the rice and stir until liquid is almost completely absorbed, around 3 minutes. Add one cup of stock and occasionally stir. Keep adding stock cup by cup until one cup remains, around 20 minutes*. Add lemon juice, zest, leeks, peas, and last cup of stock to the rice and stir until incorporated.

When you add the last cup of stock, heat remaining two tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and place shrimp in the pan. While the shrimp are cooking: add cheese and butter to the risotto and stir. Turn the heat off of the risotto. Flip the shrimp in the skillet after 3 minutes, cook for another 3 minutes on the other side.

Plate the risotto and place shrimp on top. Garnish with extra grated parmesan cheese if desired.

*Note: the best way to test your risotto for doneness is to taste it. Grains should be just barely hard in the center when you turn off the heat to complete the cooking process.

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Flop

Guys, I did it again. Messed up a recipe. This is twice in two weeks, I want you to know. The first flop was when I thought I could make risotto without chicken stock. It was pretty disgusting. Not only did it taste bitter and weird, it came out a sick milky-purple color from the red wine I thought I’d try and use to flavor it up. This last mess up was bright green: usually attractive in a pesto, gross and bitter (once again) from lack of salty flavor. The risotto debacle was the result of me trying to “make do and mend” with items I already had in my house. The pesto travesty came from a shoddy recipe (or from someone who REALLY loves the taste of watered down arugula juice*).

The (lovely and patient) BF tried to force down both dishes, but in the end I think his response was, “I don’t know if I can eat any more of this…” I feel like I have some serious mac-n-cheese-ing to do to compensate for these lost meals.

In any case, the shrimp in that above dish were INCREDIBLE so I’m including the recipe here. Totally worth trying with a regular pesto recipe or your standard tomato sauce.

On the menu:
Garlic fried shrimp
Serves 2

1 lb. raw shrimp, deveined and tails removed
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil

In a small bowl, mix together garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Make sure shrimp are rinsed clean and patted completely dry. Sprinkle seasoning over the shrimp. Place shrimp in a plastic Ziploc bag, add flour, and shake to coat. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Shake excess flour off of shrimp and place in the hot skillet. Cook on each side for around 3 – 4 minutes, or until they are no longer gray and translucent.

Add to pasta and sauce and grate cheese over the top.

*In case you’re interested, the sauce in question was arugula pesto: 6 oz. of arugula, 1 garlic glove, 1/3 cup of asiago cheese, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup heavy cream, all blended together.

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